Monthly Archives: October 2013

More Thoughts on the Podcast

Voice actor for Dan Carlin.

Bill Barrett, the voice actor for Dan Carlin.

I talked yesterday to Bill Barrett, the same awesome voice actor who does the liners for Dan Carlin’s podcasts. I was expecting his fees to be far beyond what I could afford, but it’s actually not bad at all. So, now all the pieces are in place–just need to start thinking about how I want to go about the podcast.

My purpose here is to create a rather excellent podcast that will be entertaining, informative, and inspiring. To that end, I’ve started re-reading my favorite books and articles on the subject, including my all-time favorite: Hackers by Steven Levy. If you haven’t read this book, go ahead and order it now–I haven’t read anything nearly as good on the topic. Levy does a superb job making his history read like a great novel without skimping on the details. It’s the kind of book that’s much more than just a good read, though–you almost can’t resist doing some coding or messing around with some hardware after you put it down. He also does a great job sketching the personalities involved. I’d love to capture some of that style and energy in podcast form.

Continue reading

Matt’s Podcast History of Gaming?

I don’t know how many of you out there love audio podcasts as much as I do, but I’m a big fan of the history podcasts by Dan Carlin, Mike Duncan, and, more recently, Benjamin and Adam. I was thinking that it’d be pretty fun to do my own dedicated history podcast about gaming and computers. If I go down this route, I want to really make a determined effort to get it right the first time. In short, I want to do something really slick and polished that would have a decent shot at getting featured on the iTunes store.

Continue reading

Blackwell Legacy

Matt Chat 212: Dave on Blackwell & Steam

Dave Gilbert returns this week to chat about his Blackwell series, a great adventure game franchise featuring a very unlikely duo–a medium named Rosangela Blackwell and a ghostly detective named Joey Mallone. If you’re a fan of classic LucasFilm and Sierra On-Line adventures, you’ll really enjoy it. We also talk about publishing third-party games, including the best-selling Gemini Rue game. Regardless of whether you’re into adventure games or not, you’ll really want to hear the final part of the segment, which covers Dave’s trials with Steam. See more of my thoughts below the fold.

mattchat212

Continue reading

Dave Gilbert

Matt Chat 211: Dave Gilbert on Adventure Games

This week, Wadjet Eye founder Dave Gilbert is in the Matt Chat seat, spilling his guts about his career as a developer and publisher of point-and-click adventure games. Dave works extensively with Adventure Game Studio, a free, easy-to-use tool for making games in the style of Monkey Island and Day of the Tentacle. Dave has taken the genre in intriguing new directions, beginning with his first game The Shivah, which puts players in the shoes of a rabbi. Be sure to see below the fold for my extended thoughts on the “freeware vs. commercial” part of our discussion.

mattchat211

Continue reading

Games and Racism: Are we doing enough to fight it?

Black main characters are becoming more common in games, but are they doing much to combat racism?

Black main characters are becoming more common in games, but are they doing much to combat racism?

Lately, I’ve been studying up on the topic of racism, specifically, what it is and what can be done to prevent or at least reduce it. SCSU offers a number of CARE workshops and programs for faculty and students addressing the topic, and the city of Saint Cloud offers the Create CommUNITY “Conversation on Race,” which I plan to attend on Tuesday. What has struck me about all these events is a particular definition of racism–specifically, that “racism” isn’t just a negative attitude or prejudice against a race. Instead, it’s presented as a formula: Racism = Prejudice + Power. Some of the more provocative statements I’ve heard coming from the speakers at these workshops is that black people can’t be racist, since they don’t have the institutional power to discriminate against an entire group. Another claim that makes some people bristle is that “everyone is racially prejudiced,” that it just comes naturally to us and can’t be avoided. Even if you are a white person who is passionate about being anti-racist, you are racist despite yourself, since the system will discriminate in your favor no matter what you try to do. See Diane Sawyer’s True Colors on YouTube for a vivid look at what this kind of racism is all about.

Continue reading

Free Game Creation Tools for Students and Non-Programmers

Thanks to tools like Construct 2, making games has never been easier.

Thanks to tools like Construct 2, making games has never been easier.

One of my favorite former students (who is now enjoying a professor’s job of his own) emailed to ask for my advice on a videogame design course he’s teaching. It seems that it’s becoming more common for professors of humanities to teach this kind of course, even though few of us have the programming chops to teach C++ or Java. Fortunately, there are plenty of options out there for teachers who want to teach the basics of game development without having to learn (or explain to wide-eyed students) pointers, classes, and syntax. Better yet, these tools are powerful enough to create great games, even commercial quality games. Even better–they’re all free for teachers and students.

Continue reading

Interviewing Seth Robinson Tomorrow

Lord of the Red Dragon

Lord of the Red Dragon

Tomorrow I’ll be interviewing the great Seth Robinson, creator of Legend of the Red Dragon (LORD). There’s a good chance you’ve played this game if you were active on the BBS scene back in the 1990s. It was a unique time in the history of videogames, just when “online gaming” was becoming feasible for ordinary computer gamers rather than just college students and professionals. Back then, many people had to pay huge long distance costs in addition to whatever fees the BBS levied. In the meantime, the sysop didn’t want you on for long, since (assuming it was a popular BBS), you’d be clogging up a line and preventing other users from logging in. Games like LORD, which were limited to a few minutes of activity per day, were perfect for the time.

If there’s a question you’d like me to ask Seth, post it below or on Facebook/Twitter/G+.

Matt Chat 210: Tales of Illyria

For this week’s Matt Chat, I review Little Killers’ Tales of Illyria. This $5 Android game (PC version in the works!) is a fabulous take on Oregon Trail meets Betrayal at Krondor (both of which I’ve reviewed, too, so click the links!). I really enjoyed this game, which adds some nice touches that you won’t see in most turn-based CRPGs. I particularly liked the horses (my beloved Mustang!) and the huge variety of random encounters. You can play this for weeks and not see everything it has to offer. I interviewed one of the developers, Chad Mannicia, back in 2012.

mattchat210